Chile Verde

Chile Verde served with flour tortillas and Spanish Rice.

Chile Verde served with flour tortillas and Spanish Rice.

We had a Chili Cook-Off at work over the weekend and I submitted my Chile Verde for the event. I know its non-traditional “chili,” but I was really trying to get away from the beef/kidney bean/red gravy definition of chili.

Though it may not be traditional chili, it’s a fairly traditional Chile Verde made with pork, but you could easily replace the pork with beef or chicken if you are so inclined. Chile Verde isn’t usually spicy hot, but if you like things on the hot and spicy side, you can add more serranos or your favorite hot sauce to up the Scoville count.

Chile Verde is a versatile stew, it’s a popular burrito and taco filling, terrific on its own or served with some rice, beans and tortillas. If you leave the broth a more soupy consistency and add hominy, you’ve got a green pozole, which is a popular soup and reputed to be a great hangover cure. It’s usually served shredded cabbage, lime, thinly sliced radishes to give it a crunchy texture and freshen and brighten the flavor. Though my personal favorite way to eat Chile Verde is Navajo style, simply topped with cheese and fresh from the fryer fry bread.

Green Pozole garnished with shredded cabbage, reddish and scallions.

Chile Verde is essentially two separate preparations. The first part is seasoning and simmering the meat until tender and the second part is making a tomatillo salsa. Then you combine them together at the end so the flavors can come together.
Chile Verde
5 lbs of trimmed pork loin or shoulder cut into ½” cubes
1 white onion, stemmed and quartered
1 head of garlic
2 dried Ancho Chiles
2 dried Guajillo Chiles
2 TBS salt
1 TBS Peppercorns
1 bunch Mexican Spring onions, trimmed (white and light green part only)
¼ cup fresh oregano
2 bay/laurel leaves

Salsa Verde
1 bunch cilantro roughly chopped
3 lbs. peeled tomatillos
1 white onion
1 head of garlic
4 Anaheim/New Mexico or Hatch Chiles
2 Serrano Chiles
4 Pasilla Chiles
2 limes, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Pork
Place the cubed pork, salt, guajillo and ancho chiles, peppercorn, 1 head of garlic cut across, the Mexican onions, oregano and bay leaves into a large dutch oven. Cover with cold water and simmer on medium low until fork tender. This will take about 2 hours.

Add salt, onions, garlic, herbs and pork to a dutch oven and cover with water.

Strain the pork keeping the pork and pork stock. Discard herbs and all other solids. Wrapping the herbs, garlic and peppercorn in a cheesecloth will make this step easier. Return the pork to the dutch oven along with the quartered white onion and Salsa Verde. Simmer uncovered on low until the sauce reduces by half. Use the left over pork broth to adjust consistency to your preference. Salt and pepper to taste.

Salsa Verde:
While the pork is simmering, peel the remaining onion, garlic and tomatillos. Toss with olive oil and salt and roast in. 425 oven.

Toss tomatillos, onions and garlic with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast at 425.

Roast until the flesh of the tomatillos starts to blister. Remove from oven and place into a deep sided glass bowl and set aside.

Turn oven to broil, place serranos, hatch and pasilla chiles on a baking sheet and place under the broiler. Char the skin of the chiles on all sides,

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Once all sides are charred, remove from broiler and place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the chiles steam for 10 minutes.

Let chilies steam for about 10 minutes. This will loosen the skin and make them easier to peel.

Cover with plastic wrap and let chilies steam for about 10 minutes. This will loosen the skin and make them easier to peel.

This will loosen the skin and make them easier to peel. Remove all the charred skin and discard veins, stems and seeds.

Remove all the black charred skin, de-seed and remove the veins and stem.

If you are sensitive to capsicum then you may want to wear gloves for this part and avoid touching your face or any “sensitive” skin. Place cleaned chiles into the bowl with the tomatillos. Using either an upright blender or stick blender to blend the chile and tomatillo mixture together until smooth. Add lime juice and cilantro and continue to blend. If mixture is too thick, add some of the liquid from the pork. Season to taste and set aside.

Spring Rolls and light summer time fare……

It’s been crazy hot and humid in NJ these past several days. I’ve been thinking of some light dinner and lunch options. First up, are fresh Spring Rolls. I made them using left over rotisserie chicken and arugula for a little peppery bite. I just took the chicken and shredded it into a bowl then added about 1 TBS of prepared hoisin sauce. The rice noodles, are soaked in warm water for about 15 minutes then drained and cooked in boiling water for 3 minutes. They are drained again then rinsed in cold water, drained and allowed to cool.

Shredded chicken, rice noodles, arugula, carrots, cucumbers, mint leaves, chinese long pepper, basil leaves, and scallions all cut up and waiting to go into the spring rolls.

Shredded chicken, rice noodles, arugula, carrots, cucumbers, mint leaves, chinese long pepper, basil leaves, and scallions all cut up and waiting to go into the spring rolls.

Spring rolls are fairly easy to make, you just cut up the ingredients that you want to use, then wrap them in Spring Roll Wrappers. I like to take a dinner plate and put about ½ cup of warm water on the bottom of the plate. I take a dried spring roll wrapper, dip the edge into the water then rotate the wrapper until the entire wrapper has been coated with water. I let the excess water drip off, then I’ll place the damp wrapper on a plate. Place my ingredients in a pile on the edge close to me. Then I’ll roll it once, then fold in the sides and roll to the end of the wrapper. I repeat this process until I”m out of ingredients.

You can also fry the spring roll wrappers. I minced about ¼ lbs of peeled and deveined shrimp, then placed it into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. I added a clove of garlic that was finely minced, a nickel sized, piece of peeled ginger, minced, the white and green of a scallion, 1 tsp of soy sauce and 1 tsp of corn starch. I mixed all the ingredients together and refrigerated for about 30 minutes. Once the shrimp is chilled, wet the spring roll wrappers as above and then fill with 1 TBS of the shrimp filling. Fry at 350ºF in small batches until golden brown. Serve with lettuce leaves and herbs like cilantro, thai basil and mint. They’re also served with cold rice noodle salad.

Shrimp Spring Rolls frying.

Shrimp Spring Rolls frying.

Both types of Spring Rolls are traditionally served with Nuoc Cham.

Nuoc Cham
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 cloves of garlic mashed
1 thai red chili
3 TBS of Vietnamese Fish Sauce (Nuoc Mam)
½ cup water (I’ve also used coconut soda)
2 TBS of molasses or dark corn syrup

Mix all the ingredients together until the molasses dissolves. You can store this in a container in the fridge for up to 1 month.

And here are the finished spring rolls.

Spring Rolls with Nuoc Cham

Fried Shrimp Spring Rolls served in lettuce leaves with Nuoc Cham.

Fried Shrimp Spring Rolls served in lettuce leaves with Nuoc Cham.

Here is Rice Noodle Salad with bbq beef and fried shrimp spring rolls with Nuoc Cham Dressing. The rice noodle salad employs the prep once use twice method. The veggies, herbs and rice noodles were prepped for making the fresh Spring Rolls earlier in the day. The bbq beef is left over from the banh mi sandwiches that we had last night.

Chilled rice noodles are served with an assortment of chopped vegetables, lettuce, herbs, bbq beef, fried shrimp spring rolls  and garnished with dry roasted peanuts.

Chilled rice noodles are served with an assortment of chopped vegetables, lettuce, herbs, bbq beef, fried shrimp spring rolls
and garnished with dry roasted peanuts.